Stress: What does that look like for you?

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In the month of February, Dr. Amanda asked her patients the following question; what do you think of when you hear the word “stress?” Immediately my mind went to the physical indicators of stress that I as a Massage Therapist see; tense neck and shoulders coupled with headaches. In Dr. Amanda’s office she left a board and notecards for patients to write their responses. The notecards read: fear, anxiety, bad, and loneliness. They reminded me that we all experience different reactions to stress. While I experience and see stress in a physical, tangible way, others feel its effects on their emotional wellbeing, reaching much deeper than muscles and nerves.

Interestingly enough, when I read through Dr. James Chestnut’s book on Wellness, he had an entire section that addressed stress. Chestnut described stress in a way that seemed simple yet expressed the complexity of what occurs in the body during stress. In essence, he stated that stress is an unhealthy environment, (being either toxic or deficient) stimulating the body’s stress response which is fear, catabolism (cellular beak down), anxiety and survival physiology (sweating, cortisol production, stopped up digestion, shallow breathing etc.). Stress changes our chemical makeup and the manner of which our genes are expressed. Chestnut went on to explain that the stress response is not inherently bad, if anything it keeps us alive a lot longer than if we were without it. Finally, he explains that what stress does in the body is merely an effect of living in a toxic and deficient environment, a downfall of living in “captivity.”

While we cannot change most of the things that may elicit stress in our lives such as strained relationships, financial troubles, or a soul sucking career, there are ways we can cope with the body’s stress response. Regular massages reverse the effects of stress, sending the body into rest and heal mode. Adjustments allow the stress response to switch off after perceived danger has passed and reset the nervous system. Essential oils work at the cellular level to bring homeacostasis and healing to the body. If stress in the body goes unattended, we experience disease, illness, and a lack of health. I end this month’s blog with the same question Dr. Amanda first asked coupled with my own; what do you think of when you hear the word “stress” and what is your most effective way to cope?


Kylie Wrobel, LMT



Chestnut, James L. Innate Physical Fitness & Spinal Hygiene. Victoria, B.C.: Wellness Practice–Global Self Health, 2005. Print.




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